Bleomycin is a type of antibiotic, which is of the glycopeptide variety. Typically, the active pharmaceutical ingredients used in this drug are used to treat cancer, plantar warts, pleurodesis as well as carcinoma of the squamous cells.

Its origins

Hamao Umezawa, a Japanese scientist, discovered Bleomycin back in 1962. The drug was found to inhibit cancerous cells during an accidental cultural filtration of S. Verticullus. In 1966, he published his new discovery. Soon after 3 years Bleomycin was launched in the market and the company to market it was called Nippon Kayaku. In 1073 Bleomycin received FDA approval and initially it was marketed inside US under the trade name of Blenoxane. The company to market it in US was called Bristol Laboratories. Even to this day, Bristol-Myers Squibb is the predominant supplier of Blenoxane. Various generic versions of Bleomycin are available from the company APP Pharmaceuticals. Companies Mayne Pharma, Bedford, Sicor (Teva) and several others, market these medicines.

How it works

Bleomycin works by introducing strand breaks of DNA. It also prevents thymidine from incorporating into the existing strands of DNA. The bifurcation of DNA because of Bleomycin is because of metal ions and oxygen. Bleomycin works by chelating metallic ions by manufacturing a special pseudoenzyme. This forms a reaction along with oxygen to result in superoxide. Along with this some free radicals are also formed. These radicals result in breakage of DNA strands. These also interrupt peroxidation of lipids as well as oxidation reactions of cellular molecules.

Common side effects

The regular intake of the active pharmaceutical ingredients obtained from Bleomycin can result in several side effects. Some of the most common effects include pulmonary fibrosis. It can also result in impaired functioning of the lungs. It also creates an enhanced sensitivity to high levels of oxygen. If you have been treated with Bleomycin in the past you need to mention this to your anesthetist.

Therefore, if you are undergoing general surgery of any kind, you need to mention your intake of Bleomycin to the doctor. Some of the other common side effects also include hyperpigmentation of the skin, fever, rashes on the skin, alopecia, dermatographism, Raynaud’s phenomenon and many others. One may also experience loss in hunger or appetite, a general sense of fatigue, mouth sores as well as ulcers, nail changes such as in color and texture, chills as well as changes in taste.

Some of the lesser noted side effects include a feeling of nausea, skin sensitivity to sunlight, hair loss, lung changes etc. Fertility in both men and women can be an issue when Bleomycin is taken for extended periods. If you are trying to conceive you maybe required to postpone it after the Bleomycin treatment since the fetus can be harmed. Proper contraceptive measures should be taken during Bleomycin treatment.

Treatment of cancer

Bleomycin is most commonly used to treat cancer of various kinds. It is a kind of chemotherapy drug and is administered either as a drip, through an injection into the muscle or injection through chest drainage.